It's simple to find little things

This week, I read a beautiful post from a wonderful woman who spoke on how it can be so simple to find little things in this world to make you smile. Make you happy. Make you slow down a little, appreciate a little more. She set out a challenge...find what makes you keep going. Write that shit down. Make yourself remember the things that make you feel like you are living, actually living. Things that breathe life back into you, make you so content, comfortable, and at home. So, I made a list. And not my regular "get this done" list but instead, a make yourself remember there are so many things to be happy and appreciative of list. This is my list of love.

  • Rain…the sound, the smell, the clouds, the gray, the dark.
  • Waking up before anyone especially if it’s still dark out.
  • But also, sleeping and napping at all hours, any time of day.
  • The heaviest of blankets.
  • The smell on my hubby’s chest, it smells like home.
  • My kids’ actual belly laugh.
  • My puppers kisses and hugs…because I have a dog that gives actual hugs.
  • Seeing my husband love on our dog.
  • Seeing my husband belly laugh at our kids.
  • Pop-tarts…for real though.
  • Looking through old pics of the kids.
  • My fireplace and how much my puppy loves the fireplace.
  • How much my puppy loves her crate.
  • How much my puppy loves her family and you can physically see it!
  • The glow of soft lights.
  • Coffee, I have such a deep-rooted love for coffee.
  • A lit candle.
  • My bathtub.
  • A good robe.
  • The sound of a bat as it hits a ball, that crack gets me.
  • The look of a grown man’s face when he is so happy you can actually see the little boy in him.
  • Watching basketball, especially college, most especially with my family.
  • Long runs when I have 0 training scheduled, because I'm just running for the love of running.
  • The very end of yoga because laying down is my favorite.
  • Waking up and realizing I have so many more hours of sleep ahead of me but I’m not struggling to fall back to sleep. Because again, I love to sleep!
  • A really good kiss, because you are a really good kisser, even decades after our first. 
  • This fall, I don't know if I was just ready to really watch it all happen this year or if this fall has been especially exceptional but we really do live in an amazing area. I feel like we are living in a movie about a place that has a beautiful fall. There are leaves everywhere, the air is crisp but still warm, the colors are gorgeous…it has been magic.
  • Family bike rides and family walks with the puppy.
  • Playing a game together as a fam, I just love spending time with you guys. 
  • A gray day.
  • A new snowfall.
  • Snowshoeing!
  • Watching the kids sleep.
  • Holding hands.
  • Quiet.

I have so much to love on every single day. I need to remember how lucky I am and how much good I can find in my days. It is not always easy, I focus a lot on what I can be doing, should be doing, could do differently, need to work on and lists that look so different. But this list, this is a list we can all make and all take in. And slow the hell down and remember that life gives you reasons to smile. Life gives you reasons to slow down, you just have to take a breath and remember that your own list is there for you.


What happened?

Do you ever look around and think, how did we get here? What decisions did we make along the way that got us to this spot? I think about it a lot because I remember it being exactly what we always wanted.

Remember when you knew exactly what you wanted to do, exactly what you wanted to be when you grew up? And then, all be damned, you went and did it. You knew when you were nine and then you became the thing you always wanted. Every day, you're doing it, you're getting to go in and be all you ever wanted to be...remember?

Remember when my work and the mission and the agency and the mission and the work and the agency and the work were all that I could ever dream about? Remember when I left the first time, how sad I was to walk away from something that I believed in so much, with all my heart so much. Remember how when I got back I felt like I was home, exactly where I belonged. And then as I got more and more involved and more and more into it, remember how much more I loved it...remember?

Remember when you told me we were going to be parents? You knew, you always and forever knew they were a part of our story? Remember how you said it...we're having kids, it will be fine, you will love them, we are going to be parents. Remember when before they got here how we would talk about them? Their names, what they would look like, how we would handle this scenario or that, who would do what, when we would do this all? I remember, I would stare at you and wonder if they would get your eyes, or your smile? I would hope for my hair and green eyes are pretty too. Remember the few months it didn't work how heartbroken we were? Remember how much it physically hurt? Like they were somehow taken from us. That, by the way, that was how I knew you were right, I did want this. I wanted them before they came. You always wanted them...remember?

Remember how we could not imagine life without Mia? Remember how we would talk about it, we knew it would happen and we would wonder how and who and reactions and life after and timing? Remember how we thought you would be the strong one, I didn't even know if I could be there? Remember how she was our one and only for so so so so long? She was our reason, what we came home to, what we worried about, what we poured love into. Remember how I would joke that she would hate our kids, how mad she would be? Remember how everyone told me I would love her less once they got here, except I knew it would only make me love her more...remember?

Remember the promises we made...better or worse, sickness and health, together, strong...touching toes and holding hands kind of strong? Remember how eyes wide open I thought we went into parenting? Remember how easy it was to love each other, how silly the fights were, how walking away didn't seem ever possible? Remember how we always felt like family...remember?

So, we did it. You know, we really did it. All the big and little dreams. The ones like homes and careers and kids and moves. The ones like easy mornings with coffee and traditions that bind and movies that still define who we are. The ones like everyday living and big life planning. The ones like saying goodbye to our one and only and welcoming in a puppy that is a lover of love. The ones like adding kids and even more love and hearts growing. The ones like heartache and fights that shake us and how it takes actual effort and holding on to not walk away now. The ones like how your nook is still my spot, the ones like how we expanded our arms to fit them all in. The ones like hearts exploding and breaking and how love and time continue to put all the pieces back together again.

We did it, all we ever wanted, all we ever wished and dreamed for so we can look around and just be so thankful. Thankful that they are healthy. Thankful that we have space to fight over a parental decision or reaction. Thankful that it's messy. Thankful that it's loud. Thankful that they are good kids. Thankful that we do somethings with them right. Thankful that saying goodbye to Mia was so painful and we knew that pain only because we did love her as hard as we could. Thankful that we allowed Pearl in. Thankful that you convinced me this was our story to tell, thankful that you convinced me to have not just one but two little faces. Thankful that I convinced you to add another puppy and thankful that you said yes. Thankful for the work we wanted being our lives. Thankful for growing into bigger dreams for us. Thankful for the house turned home, the one we built together. Thankful for your ability to do anything, thankful for mine to want to tackle everything. Thankful for laughter, thankful for the tears, thankful for the fits of anger that crumble, and the hugs that heal. Thankful for all the smooches to end our day, thankful because we did it.

What happened was that we made it. We got our wish, so although that doesn't mean we stop, we can at least take a beat and say, we landed in the place we always wanted to be.


I am better, with you.

Find your circle
find your family
find your framily
find those that make you better and hold on, never let them go.
Surround yourself with those that make you the best you.

Because mom did and it has been why I am able to do
do more
ask more of myself
because everywhere I turn I can say...

You make me better,
a better person,
a better mom,
a better bride.
I am better with you.

You make my eyes wake up,
you allow my feet to touch the ground,
even on cold and early days.

You make me a better person.

You make me forgive quickly, you help me come back to reality.
You laugh at my crazy with me
you make me feel not so crazy.
I am better with you

You made me believe in something big.
You made me believe in family.
You made me believe in love at first sight.
You made me believe in happily ever after.
You made me believe people care.

You make me joyful.
You make me seek joy.
You make me smile bigger,
laugh a little harder.
I am better with you.

There are people that will come and go.
There are people that leave on purpose.
There are people you will push out.
There will be people that you love but life gets too busy.
There will be people you wish lived closer.
There will be times you feel lonely.
There will be times you feel whole.
There will always be people that make you feel worse.
There will always be people that try and step on you.
There will always be people that make themselves feel better by making you feel bad.
But, not your circle.
Not the real family you need in your life.
Not the real framily you create.
Not the ones that you decide, this is who I belong with.

So, go and find those you can honestly say...
I am better, with you.


Pearl Rose

Hi sweet love, it's mom.
It's hard to believe but it's been over 6 months since we said goodnight to you.
And it's been sad, and it's been blue and it's been lonely.

And so, we decided it was time to heal, it was time to open our home to love.
And when I saw Pearl I fell in love.
So similar to when I met you, just seeing a picture of her, I knew she was ours.
Dad needed more time, he just wasn't sure.
Because another puppy that wasn't you, was too hard for him still.
Then he got his hands on her and it was moon and stars love.
But it brought you back up and made us think of you all of the time.

She would really like you, she misses other dogs.
She would really really have loved to play with you.
You, you would have put her in her place.
You would have taught her the way.
You would have shown her.

But, she is just wonderful.
And has brought so much love and light.
Because that is what we needed most.
We find ourselves saying Mia never, or Mia always, or when I was training Mia...
But Mia did her incredible job of raising us and it was her time.

Here is the biggest difference
she came to us with an 8 and almost 5 year old and she knows no different.
So, she loves them.
She sits by Anna and waits.
She sits outside her door
she sleeps on her lap
she has to be touching her.
She lets Cole lay on her, struggle to cuddle and smooch her.
She embraces his love of love.
She too loves loves.
She folds into people
she curls right up to their love and attention.

You were much more confident in you, you were not needy
and love from the kids, you were not interested because it was only our love that you were loyal to.

She knows her name now,
she is starting to finally understand potty training.
She is ringing her outside bell and knows that's the cue to go out.

She too hates the rain and the cold
she refuses to even put up with it.
She is playful, she too loves tug of war.
She loves to be snuggled, loves the comfort and safe.
She adores that fireplace that was your home for all of those years.
That is her forever spot.

She looks to us for what is right, she knows when she is being naughty and hides.
She is getting more brave, more confident, but she still is needy for love and attention.

It's been over six months and hearing the sound of paws has been the light our hearts needed.
Being attached physically to her has been good for my soul.
I have missed you, I will continue to miss you and I hope you like watching us with her,
knowing she hasn't replaced our love, but instead, brought it back out.

Welcome home Pearl Rose.
You are love.



You hit me hard.
You wanted me to crumble, and I did.
You wanted me to break and walk away from all that I knew,
and I almost did that too.

You started with so much sickness
so much scary and unknown
so much stress and worry
so much testing and anger
so much sadness and confusion.

See, 2016 was the year that I swore up and down I would stop wishing time away.
That was my resolution, I would stop wishing my life away.
Because for as long as I can remember me, I was always the person that would say, I just need to get through...fill in the blank.
And then one day I woke up and said enough, I have wished it all away and no more.
This is my life, I can either change it or live it and I am choosing both.
But 2016 was a tough one, all around.
And so, I say a very welcomed good-bye to you and I am dusting myself off and trying...
all over again.

Each year, I feel like my theme with resolutions circles around the word less...
less worry, less stress, less stuff.
So this year, I am going the opposite direction.
New year, new me. And this year, the word is more.
More laughter
more fun
more me
more us
more them
more who I really am, not this angry person I have become
more time
more opportunities
more adventures
more trying
more new
more for my business
more of what I love
more love.

So, first things first.
I am going to start finding things funny again.
Really funny.
Us, I will find the humor in us and our situation and our kids.
God, I am going to laugh hard with my kids.
More laugh lines, not worry lines.
More silly.
So, I am going to lighten the hell up...way more!

I am going to kick my own ass, way more!
Yep, I am always afraid.
Yep, my first response is always "I can't do that".
Yep, I have to walk through my fear and I always do.
So, more me.
More time spent working to get out of my head.
More time spent on putting my own mask on first.
More time spent doing yoga
and running
and racing
and watching movies
and reading
and building my business
and building me.
More me.

More talking.
More spending time listening to your day.
More walking away from my work to show you that you matter.
More turning everything else off to be with you.
More hands free mom.
More curling up with you and just letting you go.
More time in the car together where you really open up.
More listening.
More of me with you.

More calm presence.
More loving words
more open arms
more smiles
more warmth
more letting you know I have your back
more being on your side
more snuggles
more laying with you at night
more caressing your face
more running my fingers through your hair.
More love towards those I love.

More smiling.
More finding other people as good.
More smiles with strangers.
More complimenting people just because it's true.
More giving of myself to those I don't even know in the most simple and humane way.

More happy.
More finding fun new things to do.
More snowshoeing.
More ice skating.
More playing hoops together.
More board games
more card games
more puzzles
more legos
more family adventure
more hikes
more trips.
More joy in our lives.

I am ready for the challenges that will come.
I am ready for a new puppy to show us that life always moves and goes on.
I am ready for this family, the one we created, the one we wanted, the one we have, the one we need to feel lucky to have.
I am ready for us, all of us.
I am ready to fall back in love.
I am ready to be comfortable.
I am ready to be full on me, us.
Just more of it.


This week

This week, I have been missing you a lot.
I actually started to feel better once you were back home,
and as tough as it's been to start a normal routine without you,
it selfishly felt better than feeling you all day long and needing to take care of you, even when you were gone.
But this week, I feel you more.

You see, this week, was a pretty big deal for baseball and although we are hard Yankee fans,
the Cubs are as close to second as you can get.
Dad has a close boyhood connection to the Cubs and there is something about seeing the little boy in him that makes me melt.
So, this week, was big.
And as we watched every single game, and it got louder and louder and the cheering and shouts started to get out of control for 11:30pm,
I felt this huge weight on my chest.
You weren't there
getting really nervous at dad's energy and my shouts.
You weren't trying to crawl on top of me because you didn't feel safe with all of the nerves.

And so, this week, I finally threw away your food and cleaned out your bowls.
It was so long overdue but for the last month, I couldn't bring myself to do it.
Every single time I tried, I would stop myself, tell myself I had more pressing things to do and just walk by.
And every single day that I walked into the house, I would see them first and it would punch me that you were gone.
So, this week, I took care of that.
I washed everything out, and left the empty clean white bowls in our sink.

This week, I put away your beds.
Because I can't keep walking by and wanting to scoop you up and bring you downstairs with me.
Because I can't keep looking at your little toys and remembering how cute it was to watch you snuggle like an actual person.
Because I can't keep bending down to see if they still smell like you.
So this week, I put them away.

This week, I have been crying a lot.
Sad, blue, heart heavy.
And when I am not crying, I feel like I want to be crying
like it will allow me to somehow feel better,
but not yet.
I keep thinking the the tears will wash just a little bit of the blue away, but just not yet.
So this week, I am going to cry.

This week, I took down your box.
The one I have kept of all your things.
And I looked at Mr. Fish, the very first present I gave you on your very first day with me.
I realized how starting everyone off with a lovey is so important to me, and like everything else, it started with you.

So this week, I am so sad.
Because I feel like I am trying to get rid of you
and that feels wrong and terrible.
Because I feel like I am being so selfish
but still so empty.
So this week, I am really missing you sweetie.


Goodnight Mia

It ended like it started
face to face and nose to nose.
In a cold room, sterile and not homey.
But knowing, we were always going to be together.

Whenever I imagined saying goodbye to you,
I would swear up and down I would come home and just find you.
I had this overwhelming feeling you would not make me, make us, have to decide.
That you would go.
Because everything with you was so easy, you were so easy.

But that's not what happened.
We did have to decide, and you did make it as easy as you could.
You told us it was time,
you asked us to let go
you had the expert tell us to say goodbye now.
You made sure we didn't have any doubts, that your time with us had come to a close.
But I couldn't help but wonder why?
What were you trying to teach me, why did you want this left to us?
And then it really hit me that you think I wouldn't have been able to handle not saying goodbye.
That you knew I needed to hold you, I needed to be talking to you,
I needed closure and I needed this final goodbye.

It's been two days and I am heartbroken.
Everyone is telling me that time will slow down the pain and the tears,
that I will find a way out of what feels like crushing sadness right now.
I know they are right, I know time always heals,
but peanut, I miss you and I know I will always and forever miss you.


I keep looking for you peanut.
I keep reaching down expecting you to come up to me and pet you.
I keep seeing glimpses of you in the door to let you in.
I keep doing our routine and thinking I need to bring you downstairs.
And if only for a second, I walk into the house expecting to see you right there.
And then it all hits me, how gone you are.
I keep looking at your food bowls and not knowing how to put them away.
I keep expecting to hear your paws and see your face.
I keep looking for you.
And everything feels so strange right now,
quiet but deafening
sad and crushing
and the only thing that will make any of it ok, is to hug you, and have your little face pressed against mine.

And he sweetie, well, he struggled with this Mia.
He was less ready than I was.
He stood there and asked me to bring you home,
he kept thinking if we just got you feeling better, this would all go away.
Because he is a fixer, and he just wanted to fix this for you.
The idea of not being able to, was crushing.
He really struggled because he always loved you and he knew you brought him to us.
You brought him to us, you knew he was what we needed, you two were just as connected, as loving.
And the last few years, he was your legs, your back, you were his shadow.
And like he said to me that awful night, I just wanted to give her every single second she deserved.

Anna would catch you and I snuggled and she would say
Mia really loves you mom.
And as smart as that little mind is, she will never understand how right she was.
Because I will never feel that level of love again,
there was something so amazing with what we had
there was just something incredible about what you being present did.
What you symbolized for me, how much was wrapped up in your tiny face.


I can't even imagine going through the list of things I will miss peanut,
there are too many to list
and so I will leave it as I will miss every last thing about you.
You raised me sweetie.
You were my reason.

There is so much emptiness right now
and crushing sadness.
There are so many tears and so much pain
so much racing through my mind
so much I keep feeling.
I know it is time that I need
I know you knew how much and what you meant
I know you felt our love
I know you knew how important you were and still are
I know you loved us
I know you knew we knew how much.

We have no regrets.
We loved you as much as we could
as hard as we possibly could.
You were amazing, you were so flexible and easy.
You were so patient with the kids and the house and the renovations and with us.
You were the best start to us and you watched us grow up.
You were there for our first date staying up until 4am
you were there for every "argument" as we grew and loved
you were there when he asked
you were there when we became Housers
you were there for every move
you were there for the house
you were there when a little blue line changed everything
you were there the day we brought them both home
you were a puppy to them too, even though you had to try a little harder.
And so we knew we now had to be there for you,
it was our turn to take care of you
and tell you that you lived the longest life, because you knew how much and for how long I needed you.
And to thank you.
Thank you for making sure I was in bed before you snuggled in
thank you for all the snow shoe adventures
for the nights of thunder storms that had you in our bed in a heartbeat
for the games of hide and go seek with dad
for the chases around the yard
for the chases on the beach
thank you for being my running buddy
and all of the walks
and kisses
and warm puppy love.

It ended just like it started
face to face and nose to nose.
And as I pulled myself away from you I whispered in your ear
the thing I loved most about you is everything.
Goodnight peanut, you did really good.



Mia Lily Houser

In 14 years, what I love most about you is:

How you check to make sure I'm in bed before you cuddle in
How you sit at my feet while I work
How you kiss my nose
How you were the reason I met my person
How you are the reason we made it through some difficult days/weeks/times
How strong you were after you were hit by a car and came home to us
How you found me
How you tilt your head to one side trying to understand me
How you know so many commands/words
How easy it was to house train you
How many walks you led me on
How many hikes you made us fall in love with
How much you love to snow shoe
Your colors
Your soft fur
How you smell after a bath
How patient you are with the kids
How much you have a bounce in your step, even though you're almost 15
How much you taught me about love and how even after I have had two kids, I still feel you were my first

5891_1202557632424_1483104508_30547873_1107602_n DSC00960
What I love most about you...
is everything.


Twelve years

I was 23 years old when my life changed but truth be told, I knew at 22 that things were going to be different for me. I started to have MS symptoms in the summer of 2001 and Cory and I had been together for only a short year. I had no idea what was going on and it wasn't until the symptoms became too much to ignore and so odd that I felt like I knew something was really wrong. The second my incredible PC said MS, I knew that's what it was. I knew everything would change and after days, maybe even weeks of feeling so sorry for myself, I got to work on my plan.

I tried to let him go. I tried to end us right away. I knew that he had not signed on for this. I sat him down and told him that I don't know what any of this means for my future, but it's my future and it doesn't have to be his. He could go, I wouldn't tell anyone why. He didn't have to feel guilty or ashamed about any of it. He wanted a family, he wanted normal, and he was the definition of normal and drama free so why take any of this on? But, he wouldn't. He wouldn't even hear me out...he just came to all of my appointments and held my hand through all of the pain.

I didn't want to tell a single person in my family. I didn't have it in me to support them through it, but my sister, I had to tell my sister. I could hear how scared she was, but she came. She drove all the way to Rochester to hold my hand through a spinal tap, she came with me to tell my family, she was there to hear the second opinion. There she was.

I started taking my health so seriously. I stopped eating meat and worked hard on healthy. I started running lots more and found some sort of peace in the long runs. I tried to make sure I was drinking enough water and getting enough sleep and I really struggle with the fatigue that MS causes but...

It's 12 years later and here we stand. And it's been us all along.

Let me be clear, only love will carry you through this time. Only love will allow you to do some of the things we have had to do for each other. Only love will consider what this all means for you and only love will help you.

But, most days, it's not even on our minds. Especially now with all of the advances. Most days.

Some days are hard. Some days the fatigue is too much. Some days I have to remind myself that it's a diagnosis and not a definition, it's not a sentence. Some days I have to tell it to go to hell because it won't win.

And it won't. I'll be here for my kids. I will run in my races. I will have a career that challenges and drains, and I will be alive. I will live our life, I will show them what strength means, I will show them what a strong body can do, what it can mean for you. I will live.

It's been 12 years since everything changed.


As I tuck them in

And tonight, I will tuck their little faces into bed. I will whisper things like, "he only comes after you've fallen asleep", in their ear and "I will always love you". I will tell her how I will carry her heart with me, I carry it in my heart, and she will tell me that she carries my heart too. I will tell him that I will eat him up I love him so and he will tell me "love you!" I will kiss their little noses and give hugs of care. I will let the magic take over their night, their dreams. Their dreams will take them to a magical place, filled with wonder and amazement. Today, they are small, they believe, they fill our home with laughter, and excitement, and noise, and toys, and messes. They fill our hearts and our souls. They fill us up so much there are times I feel it overflowing.


Tonight, we will tell them to believe, that he is coming. We will leave him our home baked cookies, the ones we made as a family. We will leave him your letter, the one we worked on together. We will put them in their pjs and travel all around town looking at how everyone decorates their homes. They will fall asleep in the car and we will carry their little bodies in. We will tell them to believe.


If I could keep you this small, this filled with wonder, I would. I would keep you small, and little. I would keep you with me, snuggled in with me. I would keep you believing in all of it.


But tonight, I am not going to think of the someday. Tonight, I am going to believe with you. And in the morning, while we creep down the stairs, I will look to your reaction. I will watch to see your smiles, hear your laughs. I will hear your excitement and we will have our time, our little family. We will open the gifts, we will let you play, we will have our traditional breakfast and watch a holiday movie. Because tonight, I believe with you.

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